Audrey and I were converted to Christ during an Ivan Stewart Campaign for Christ in 1967. We were baptized into Christ by Joe Watson, who at that stage was the Preacher in the Pickering Street congregation in Port Elizabeth. It was however Sue and Milton Wilson who persuaded me to give up my job at Rembrandt Tobacco Company and move with Audrey and our first child ,Gill, to Benoni to attend Bible School.
At first we lived in a house in Airfield, Benoni and then moved into one of the two houses on campus where classes were held in our sitting room by teachers such as Eldred Echols, Al Horne, Bob Cannon and Clive Biggs. This was undoubtedly one of the best decisions that we made in our lives because it gave us a new purpose and direction. At this stage,1970, the first additional building was constructed (the old library building) and classes then took place there.
After completing my studies at S.A. Bible School we moved to East London to work with the Keam Rd. congregation, following in the footsteps of Ivan Uys an old school friend from Pretoria who was responsible for intoducing us to the church by inviting us to the Ivan Stewart campaign for Christ in P.E.
The work in East London was challenging but also rewarding and during the 10 years we worked there we saw many come to Christ, hosted a national youth camp and welcomed a group of evangelists from Sunset School of Preaching who came to assist with spreading the gospel in the area.
After 10 years we moved our efforts into the Parkside/Buffalo Flats area of East London and established a congregation in Buffalo Flats. We first met in the Greenpoint High School and then with the help of the Church of Christ in Woodward, Oklahoma, secured a property that was available for a Church building. A building was built and also a house for the preacher and his family. The October family from Cape Town followed the Kluyt family as fully supported preachers and we assisted in the work while earning our salaries in education for the next 25 years.
In 1982/3 I attended Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas and completed my M.A. During the years both Audrey and I completed our B.A.degrees at UNISA and our H.E.D diplomas.I also completed a B.Ed in Educational Management.
Our children assisted with developing a strong Sunday School programme in Buffalo Flats.
Today both Keam Rd. and Buffalo Flats Churches of Christ are doing well and we continue to preach, teach, counsel and train up leaders for the churches in the East London area.
Working for the Lord has been a great blessing and it all started with the three years we spent at S.A. Bible College that set us on the right course for our lives.
Johan and Audrey Smulders – East London, South Africa